2022-2023 Record: 10-8, 3rd place West Division; lost to Calgary in 1st round of playoffs
New Faces: Ryan Sheridan, Ty Thompson, Brandon Goodwin, Brent Mitchell
Key Losses: Patrick Dodds, Nathan Grenon, Dean Fairall, Cam Wengreniuk, Liam Byrnes, Nate Wade
Panther City enters its third season in the NLL with high expectations. They are coming off a season that saw them make their first playoff appearance. But more importantly, it was a season in which they kept most of their games close affairs, including losses. The marked improvement from Season 1 to Season 2 led to contract extensions for both Head Coach Tracey Kelusky and General Manager Bob Hamley, and they are making the most of it. With a mix of trades, draftings, and signings, Panther City has built a team that can compete for a Cup now and in the foreseeable future.
The offense has undergone a few changes, most notably the offseason trade of Dodds and Wengreniuk to Saskatchewan. Forwards Nathan Grenon and Dean Fairall were also released. The right side features 2022-23 Rookie of the Year Jonathan Donville, along with Phil Caputo, future Hall-of-Famer Callum Crawford, and #5 overall draft pick Ryan Sheridan, who had an outstanding summer with the WLA’s Nanaimo Timbermen. The left side sees the return of leading scorer Will Malcom and 2022 Minto Cup standout Mathieu Gautier. They will be joined by three newcomers: Cole Pickup, top 2022 draft pick Jason Knox, and Ty Thompson, acquired in a trade with Colorado at the end of training camp.
Captain Matt Hossack anchors a young, speedy defense with plenty of potential to be a premier unit in the league. Joining Hossack are veterans Connor Sellars, Patrick Foley, Evan Messenger, Dylan Hutchison, and Brandon Goodwin. The transition game features Tony Malcom, Liam Patten, and Josh Medeiros, whose 21 goals ranked fourth on the team. Rounding out the defensive unit with some muscle are Ronin Pusch and Brent Mitchell, acquired in an offseason trade with Albany. Nick Damude remains the starter in net, with Cam MacLeod backing him up.
One area where the team may struggle at the start of this season is at the X. Tyler Burton and Brooker Muir handled the majority of faceoffs last year. However, both are temporarily out of action with injuries. Panther City may opt to use a committee of Messenger and Pusch in their absence. Alternately, they may choose to concede draws and try to create turnovers for possession (Hossack, Medeiros, Patten, and Tony Malcom combined for over 60 CTO last year). Panther City will surely be an exciting team to watch this upcoming season.
Check out the All Lacrosse Live podcast every Sunday at 9:00 pm (ET)
“Muffler” Mike Kostiuk was formally introduced to box lacrosse when he attended a New England Black Wolves game on a whim in 2016. Instantly hooked, he has since become an avid follower of the National Lacrosse League. Following the postponement of the 2019-2020 NLL season, he was offered the chance to share his wealth of statistical knowledge and unique insights with the lacrosse community at large. He cheerfully accepted, and currently serves as Edge of Philly’s correspondent for both the Albany FireWolves and New York Riptide.